December 10, 2010
Anna Christopher, NPR




In an interview airing today on NPR's Morning Edition, President Barack Obama says he is “confident” that Democrats will not stop the tax deal from going to a vote on the House floor. The president tells NPR News: “Here’s what I’m confident about – that nobody – Democrat or Republican – wants to see people’s paychecks smaller on January 1 because Congress didn’t act. And I think that the framework that we’ve put forward, which says not only that people’s taxes don’t go up on January 1 but also that we extend unemployment insurance for a year, that we make sure that key provisions like the college tax credit, the child tax credit, the earned-income tax credit are included – that that framework is going to serve as the basis for compromise.”

If the tax cut deal is eventually approved, the president says he would use the two-year window to push for a broader overhaul of the tax code: “I think we’re going to have to have a conversation over the next year. …Simplifying the system, hopefully lowering rates, broadening the base — that's something that I think most economists think would help us propel economic growth. But it's a very complicated conversation.”

Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep interviewed the president yesterday afternoon at the White House. Audio and a transcript of the full interview are at, along with analysis at the It’s All Politics blog. Several excerpts follow:

On House Democrats’ claims that they will not take up the package unless there are changes, Mr. Obama says: “My understanding is that the Senate is going to vote on the package over the next several days and that at the end of the day, people are going to conclude we don’t want 2 million people suddenly without unemployment insurance and not able to pay their rent, not able to pay their mortgage, not able to pay their house note. I think that people are also going to understand that the single most important thing we can do for all of our constituencies is to make sure that the recovery that is taking place right now gets stronger.”

On extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the president says: “I’ve said repeatedly that I think they’re not a smart thing to do, particularly because we’ve got to borrow money, essentially, to pay for them. The problem is, is that this is the single issue that the Republicans are willing to scotch the entire deal for. And in that circumstances – in that circumstance, we’ve got, basically, a very simple choice: Either I allow 2 million people who are currently getting unemployment insurance not to get it. Either I allow the recovery that we’re on to be endangered. Or we make a compromise now, understanding that for the next two years this is going to be a central battle as part of a larger discussion about how do we reform our tax code so that it’s fair and how do we make sure that we actually are dealing with the deficit and debt in an intelligent way?”

On whether he has an understanding from Republicans that there will be a vote on the START treaty by the end of the year, President Obama says: “Well, the START treaty is something that I absolutely think has to get done before Congress leaves for Christmas vacation. ...My understanding with them is that START is going to be called. And I am urging them to vote for the bill. And my expectation is – vote for the treaty, rather. And my understanding is, is that we have a number of Republicans, starting with Richard Lugar – somebody who, by the way, on my first trip abroad, I accompanied to Russia to talk about nuclear proliferation issues. He’s been a great champion of this treaty. We’re going to keep on working the numbers. And hopefully, we’re going to be able to get it done.”

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